His throat was hurt badly, and his lungs screamed.
The captain’s only companion was the cold emptiness. All the people that floated past him were dead. Corpses.
He would join them soon.
Something still lingered on Drey’s mind. Something seemed strange. His brain was fuzzy. He couldn’t remember why he floated.
But he floated nonetheless.
Where did the...the dark god go?
What was his name?
Pendragon or something similar. Of that, Drey was positive.
Darkness was all around him, but shadows still crept at the edge of his vision. They grew bigger and bigger.
Hello, my Gardener.
But the Gardener did not come. Instead, blinding, warm light filled his vision. All he could see was light.
A final breath escaped his lips.
Captain Armandus Drey - fifth regiment, army veteran of 27 years, and receiver of the white rose award - opened his eyes.
He blinked for a moment, warm light filling into his vision.
How...how am I alive?
“Ehhhhh….ehhhhh!” he wheezed.
The captain began to thrash in panic. Where did his voice go? Why couldn’t he speak?
Suddenly, a young woman was at his side, “Captain! Captain, calm down! It’s alright. No, don’t try to speak.”
Drey stopped thrashing, breathing heavily. He wasn’t in the Garden, nor the Flames. This was a medbay.
“Captain Drey, you were picked up by our ship, the Lilac. I don’t know how you survived in space for so long. Our scan said you had been out there for hours,” Drey furrowed his brow at that. He hadn't been out there for hours. Had he?
“Anyway, we pulled you in. You were the only life form in that...massacre. What happened? There were holes in the ship...mangled bodies…” the nurse shuddered.
“Ehhhh…” Drey attempted to talk again.
The nurse laid a hand on his arm, “No, don’t. Your throat was badly damaged by something. Maybe debris? Just...don’t try to talk. It will make it worse.”
A beeping sound came from another bed, and the nurse rushed off, leaving Drey to the thing he wanted least right now. His own thoughts.
Armandus let his eyes drift around the room. Certainly not the Garden. Clearly not the Flames. Bluish-white lights gave the room a clean feeling. The walls were white, save for lines of gray. Eight cots, like the one Drey was on, filled most of the room. They were empty, save one. The nurse was attending the patient in that bed. The patient was coughing, but Drey couldn’t make out much behind the nurse.
So not the Flames.
If it were the Flames, it would have fire. That was comforting, but he still wasn’t convinced. Pendrake had killed him, hadn’t he? If the deity hadn’t, then space surely would have…That brought more thoughts.
Why had he done something so stupid. The void of space did nothing to Pendrake; Drey had seen that with his own eyes.
Maybe it was because he always wanted to go out with a bang. From his first day in the army, he had hoped to die hard. In a blaze of glory. And he had.
Or rather, he should have.
The beeping grew louder and longer.
Drey glanced over to find the nurse rushing out of the room. The other patient was dying. What was wrong with him? Now that the nurse was gone, Drey could see strange, black lines crossing his face and skin.
Roses in fire...what is that?
Then, Armandus decided to do something foolish. He shakily sat up, and swung his legs painfully over the side of the cot.
The patient and him both went into a coughing fit at the same time. Drey noticed then that there was a bag of some fluid attached to him. Bah! He ripped the needle out of his arm and limped over to the dying man.
What am I doing!? I need to lie down and heal!
Drey froze for a moment. There were no other people in the room, and the dying man was still coughing.
I’m just going crazy.
Cautiously, the captain walked forward. He examined the patient. It seemed as though something, a dark, sickly substance, had infected this man.
“Helllppp….me….please…” the man whispered when he stopped coughing.
What can I do?
Show him the Light, Captain.
“Grrgghhh!” Drey yelped, hurting his throat.
The patient looked at him sadly. He thought the exclamation was for him. Drey raised his hands, shaking his head. It wasn’t.
The beeping slowed to a constant sound. The man had flatlined.
Do it, Armandus.
Drey raised his hand, palm up, and concentrated. He hadn’t done this since his first days in the army. It had scared him then, and still did.
A spark formed.
It grew, until a full Lumen hovered above Drey’s hand. He cautiously lowered the Lumen so it was next to the man’s face. Small balls of warm light swirled around him, then entered his mouth and nose.
That was when the nurse returned. It seemed as though she had brought the doctor with her. A spindly man, with red hair and a narrow nose.
They both stopped short and stared as Drey straightened, and dismissed the Lumen.
The dead man opened his eyes.